Open golf betting selections

3pts ew RORY MCILROY @ 17/1 (SKYBET, PADDY POWER)
 
I’ve had Rory in mind for this Major date ever since he nearly won the Dunhill Links on one of his very earliest professional starts. When his price went below 20/1, that enthusiasm started to cool, but after reading that he’d never shot worse than 69 at St Andrews, I’m back on board.
 
Despite still showing many of the hallmarks of inexperience during this year’s PGA Tour campaign, he’s good enough to have won the ‘Sixth Major’ at Quail Hollow, and must be expected to save his best for links courses. After all, while Rory might suffer from inexperience in the States, the boot is on the other foot here. Many of the overseas players have only rarely played competitive links golf, whereas McIlroy has been playing St Andrews, or courses like it, since childhood.
 
2.5pts ew ERNIE ELS @ 20/1 (GENERAL)
 
I see no good reason to abandon the golden rule of Open Championship betting; back Ernie Els each-way. There is no better player of links courses, and he has a stellar record at St Andrews in this Major, the Dunhill Links pro-am and the Dunhill Cup that preceded it. His career record in The Open reads; one title, six top threes, 11 top tens and nothing worse than 34th. Even in the last few years, when generally struggling, he’s made four consecutive top eights in The Open. This season has been his best for ages, with two titles, pole position in the Fedex Cup and a near-miss in the US Open. The stronger the wind, the greater Ernie’s chance.
 
2pts ew PADRAIG HARRINGTON @ 25/1 (GENERAL)
 
Like Els, it may pay to ignore Harrington’s wider form when it comes to this unique Major. Despite going almost two years without a win anywhere, Padraig is no forlorn hope to win his third Open title from the last four renewals. The bottom line is that we rarely see him fully tuned up outside of the biggest events, and he enjoys a significant advantage over virtually everyone when presented with a links course. In any case, his PGA Tour form is hardly terrible, with top-eight finishes on five of his last ten starts. He’s won the Dunhill Links twice here, and was my long-range fancy for The Open when it was last held at St Andrews in 2005, only to withdraw for personal reasons.
 
1pt ew ROSS FISHER @ 50/1 (GENERAL)
 
Following Fisher over the past year has proved a frustrating and expensive business, but I just can’t abandon him when it appears he has ideal conditions. Both efforts to date in The Open were much better than the final result suggests. At Birkdale in 2008, he was on the fringes of contention going into Sunday. At Turnberry, he held a two-shot lead during the final round before ruining his tournament with one disastrous quadruple bogey. There are few better players in bad weather than Ross, who also has the length to tame St Andrews, where he finished runner-up in the Dunhill Links in 2008.
 
0.5pts ew DARREN CLARKE @ 100/1 (GENERAL)
 
Another links specialist, Darren must come into the argument after last week’s efforts. Victory at JP McManus’ pro-am was swiftly followed by a fine second at Loch Lomond, which was enough to get a late entry into his favourite Major. Darren has nearly won The Open twice, and registered six top-15 finishes, so warrants strong consideration whilst on this hot streak.
 
0.5pt ew JEFF OVERTON @ 150/1 (BETFRED)
 
Some Americans never get the hang of links golf, and can be written off when the weather turns sour over here. That logic lies behind the 150/1 quote about this bang-in-form player, who has finished top three on four of his last eight PGA Tour starts. I suspect the bookies are leaping to the wrong conclusion, though, as Overton finished an excellent 13th on his Open debut at Turnberry last year in typically tough links conditions. Not only is his form much better this time around, but St Andrews should be a more suitable track, as Overton is regularly among the longest hitters in the States.